THE Mongol Derby started this week, celebrating Genghis Khan’s mighty horse messenger system which connected half the planet. Riders square up to 1,000km of Mongolian steppe on semi-wild horses, changing steed every 40km, navigating and surviving on their wits and skill, living among the herders.

Two Irish riders are taking part this year, Charmaine O’Neill born and bred in racing from Whytemount Stud, who was Irish champion lady rider in 1997/98 and now works for Gain in the UK, and J.D. Moore, son of Arthur and Mary Moore, who is a bloodstock agent.